Porn site web misuse threatens LinkNYC’s service

New free public Wi-Fi LinkNYC kiosks will no longer offer web browsing following recent instances of user misconduct.
Photo by Silvio Pacifico

A state-of-the-art communication network is improving service after eliminating its web browsing feature which was used to access pornography.

On Wednesday, September 14, LinkNYC announced it will remove web browsing service on all Link tablets following users’ misconduct of Link kiosks.

A LinkNYC spokeswoman said LinkNYC will collaborate with the city and community to explore potential solutions such as establishing time limits.

LinkNYC insists Link tablets’ additional features such as free phone calls, maps, device charging, access to emergency services and superfast Wi-Fi will remain unaltered.

The network launched this past January and is currently in its beta phase allowing New Yorkers an early opportunity to test out Link’s state-of-the-art features.

In response to community feedback and suggestions, LinkNYC has dimmed the kiosk display’s light and limited its maximum volume at night.

Additional apps and services will be established on an ongoing basis over the next several years.

The first-of-its-kind communication network is replacing the city’s obsolete payphones with Wi-Fi kiosks to establish the largest and fastest free public Wi-Fi network in the world.

More than 375 Links have been installed in the city including ones in the south Bronx and along the Grand Concourse.

Over 700 Links will be installed in the Bronx as part of the roll out over the next eight years.

Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. applauded LinkNYC, but suggested the city prevent over-extended usage by requiring registration and establishing a time limit for how long subscribers can use a kiosk.

“These kiosks and the connectivity they provide are the key to bridging the digital divide in our city and we must ensure that a handful of less-than-wholesome users do not threaten the success of the entire enterprise,” said Diaz, adding. “Disabling web browsing will prevent the most objectionable uses of these kiosks and make our streets safer while also preserving the best parts of the LinkNYC service.”

“I think it had to be done because there were a lot of unsavory individuals watching pornography and monopolizing these kiosks for hours on end,” said Councilman James Vacca, NYC Committee on Technology chairman.

He said the city responded appropriately removing web browsing services, but said he is open to hearing alternatives to reinstate the service with time limits and content blockers.

“Until we see options for web browsing on these kiosks, we’ll have to assess them to see if they can be done,” added Vacca.

LinkNYC assured the kiosks were never intended for anyone’s extended personal use and want to ensure Links are an accessible and welcomed addition to NYC neighborhoods.

The LinkNYC spokeswoman said the network was flexibly designed to learn how people use LinkNYC and what users want improved.

She added learning how people use Links over time will determine which new apps and service they will provide.

Users and residents can share feedback and suggestions regarding LinkNYC’s services at hello@link.nyc.

For Links locations, visit www.link.nyc/find-a-link.html.

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